Meet the Animal Protection Society of Durham Board of Directors!
Mary Purcell retired from 38 years of public education teaching in 2012 and her life went to the dogs – the dogs of the APS of Durham! She serves on the behavior team, has assisted with behavior evaluations and play groups, been a foster, but most of all just loves walking the adoptable dogs. She is rescued every day by Tripawd Zeke (adopted from Rottweiler Hearts Rescue) and new puppy Xena (adopted from Peak Lab Rescue) and loves being connected to these APS placement partners. She joined the board in in 2018 and currently serves as board chair. She especially loves the APS Walk for the Animals and plans to raise money in the spring of 2021 in loving memory of Rue (adopted from APS in 2012) who frequently represented the shelter at education and outreach events.
Sara, a 2018 addition to the APS Board, enjoys volunteering as a dog walker, as a member of the Behavior Team and to help represent APS at events (when they’re happening). She cares deeply about APS’s mission to build lifelong bonds between animals and people. Also a member of Rotary, Sara likes to volunteer as much as possible because it helps combat her existential anxiety. When not wondering about whether 42 is, in fact, the answer to the ultimate question of life, Sara is a marketer and writer, as well as the co-founder of a consulting company that helps e-commerce companies figure out their logistics. She lives with her boyfriend, Jacob, a mischievous German Shepard mix named Eve and a large, fluffy cat named Taco. They’re in search of an additional roommate, preferably another large, fluffy dog who is too lazy to chase after cats. A Carolina grad, Sara struggles daily to balance her love of Durham with her utter disdain for Duke.
Kari began volunteering at APS in 2002, and has been on the APS board since 2004. She is a Durham native who is part-owner and as well as office manager of the locally owned and operated CPA firm, Nelson & Company, PA., and she has used her background in finance to help the APS with sponsorship, and by offering her expert volunteer services as our treasurer for over 15 years. Kari’s passion is helping animals any way she can, and she has saved many lives through foster and adoption. Most notably, she fostered then adopted Hugo, a big beautiful Pittie, who was the face of APS for many years. She is currently parent to APS alumni Gigi and Abby, and also a kitten foster parent – she even redid a room in her house to make the kittens more comfortable. Kari is a true friend to the animals.
Sarah Smith-Brady – Sarah joined the APS of Durham board of directors in December 2018 after having volunteered as a dog care volunteer, education events volunteer, and dog play group volunteer for 3 years. When not hanging out with her husband Wil and dogs Arya (APS alum) and Thor, Sarah is an Operations Manager for Research Square Company. She is especially passionate about community education initiatives around animal welfare best practices and the importance of spaying and neutering pets. She has lived in Durham since 2012, is a member of the Durham Community Concert Band, and enjoys walking, running, and biking around Durham.
Allison joined the Board of APS of Durham in January 2020, after volunteering with the shelter’s Tails at Twilight Gala Committee for two years. Allison believes that all animals deserve a loving home and proper care, and is dedicated to supporting the Durham community in this effort. She moved to Durham from the Midwest in 2015 and has embraced the local scene and culture. Allison is an immigration attorney by profession with a busy practice based in Raleigh. She is a foodie and a wanderlust, and an animal lover at heart, with a senior rescue pup, Mishka (pictured), and her two horses, Breyer and Conundrum. Allison and her husband just welcomed their first child last month.
Geoff joined the APS board in 2019, having served as a dog handler volunteer since he moved to Durham in 2014. A patron of the Great Outdoors, Geoff loves taking his APS Alumnus Tongo (pit bull) on adventures along the trail and around the neighborhood. He holds a Ph.D. (dogtorate?) in Biophysical Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and he recently started a new venture working from home as the Marketing Content Manager for a growing international biotech company. Geoff is passionate about animal welfare and hopes to use his business development experience to forge partnerships among the APS and local life science industry leaders. Pictured are Geoff and Tongo, Cascade Falls Trail, near Blacksburg, VA (Photo credit: Dr. Colleen Kellenberger).
Meredith is a very new member of the APS board, joining in December 2020 after having recently joined the APS Finance Committee. Meredith is a CPA in Durham and has called Durham home for 11 years. Meredith also volunteers with STAR (Special Theatre Arts of Raleigh) and VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). Meredith is a proud owner to two cats, Squiggy and Robb. With Squiggy and Robb both being adoptees from the Wake County SPCA and Independent Animal Rescue, respectively, Meredith realizes the significance of local animal shelters and wants to use her talents to further the mission of the APS.
Nathan has been a volunteer at APS since 2008 and joined the board in February 2016. He works in the baseball industry and his wife, Alyson, is a photographer whose photos are used frequently by the APS, including for Pet of the Week and Face of the APS. Nathan grew up in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley with various animals as the son of an equine veterinarian. He has been a full-time resident of North Carolina since graduating from Elon University in 2007 and the Rode household currently has three dogs (Reggie, Pollux and Kona), two turtles (Shelby and Rockstar), a rabbit (Penny), and hedgehog (Maddie).
Natalia joined the APS of Durham as a board member in January 2021, after volunteering on the Development Committee for a year. As a Donor Engagement Officer with Triangle Community Foundation, Natalia brings with her a background in fundraising and non-profit programming. After moving to Durham in 2015 from DC, Natalia fell in love with how dog-friendly the Bull City was and adopted two of her own: Pop and Brutus. When not playing or snuggling with her pups, Natalia participates in a book club, loves trying all the great food that Durham has to offer, and visiting her native New York.
Chris Speh began his career jumping out of perfectly good airplanes over Okinawa, Japan with US Army Special Forces, where he later served as its Brigade-level Controller. After separation, he joined US Dept of State as a Foreign Service Officer and then Deloitte & Touche as a consultant. He then helped build 2 companies to successful exits in RTP over the course of 15 years, the 2nd as co-founder/CEO. He holds an MBA from Kenan-Flagler and taught Corporate Finance courses at NC State and through Campbell and Wesleyan University extension programs. He was a Certified SCORE Mentor for many years in Maine and currently consults through ESC of the Triangle where he enjoys helping non-profit clients learn finance-related business best practices. Chris also is a consummate traveler, having worked in or visited more than 40 countries over the years. Pictured here with our favorite puppy dog, Angus.
Susan Teer is a Durham native and she has been an APS Board member and volunteer for many years. She was an integral part of contracting the shelter management with the APS and the county in 1990. Since then she has volunteered in various capacities with the organization and she is currently concentrating on fund raising with the development staff. Her favorite job has always been working directly with the animals and seeing them go into loving homes. Her friends and neighbors and even complete strangers will tell you she can be quite persuasive when trying to arrange an adoption. She is proud of the 50 year history and the accomplishments the APS celebrates this year. Susan is pleased the organization has been able to provide help to citizens trying to care for their animals during the economic downturn this past year. Helping to keep animals in their homes and out of the shelter has been a gift to the community and the animals. Susan says it is a pleasure to work toward the common goal of creating a bond between animals and people with the dedicated APS staff and volunteers. She hopes to see a low cost spay neuter clinic in the organization’s future to reduce the number of unwanted animals in Durham.